Deponia (Nintendo Switch) Review

I’ve reviewed a few point-and-click games recently, I took a look at Silence on the Nintendo Switch, Dance of Death: Du Lac & Fey on the PC and the Secret Files: Tunguska, to name a few. However, over a year ago I played, and reviewed, Chaos on Deponia, the second game in the Deponia series (on the PlayStation 4). Today, I’m going out of sync and I’m talking about the original Deponia, the first in this amazing Quadrilogy.

As of today, all four games in the series are available on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC (individually or in a bundle), but I’ve been playing the original Deponia on the Nintendo Switch, which is also receiving the rest of the games throughout the year. Having the game on three platforms (PS4, Switch and PC), I’ve had a chance to not only play through it but also see how the game compares both visually and in terms of controls between all platforms. 

Deponia 1

I forgot about this tutorial – it makes an appearance in the sequel as well.

The Deponia series covers four self-contained stories which all link together, as you’d expect. The first game, the one we’re looking at today, is basically our introduction to the characters, the world and the personality of our protagonist. Set in an almost post-apocalyptic version of Earth, where everything has been pretty much converted into a giant garbage heap – think Wall-E – the inhabitants have become segregated by their ‘class’. We have the upper-class who reside in a floating city, high above the clouds, named Elysium (which reminded me of District 9, The Hunger Games, and Final Fantasy 7), and the ‘commoners’ who were left behind in the tragic mess we once called Earth.

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The Elysians have been separated for so long that they have forgotten there are people left down below, they presumed everyone but themselves died. Those left behind haven’t forgotten about the Elysians though… Rufus, our protagonist and generally unlucky guy, is having troubles at home with his disaster of a relationship and sad life. As such, he plans to create a rocket and shoot himself over to Elysium in order to live a better life. However, being that this is Rufus we’re talking about – things go wrong and he ends up aboard a ship belonging to the Organnon, a militant group who dumps trash on the world below and generally terrorises the humans left behind.

It’s here that our protagonist bumps into Goal, an Elysian who has seen the people below and the trash dumping for the first time. As a means to keep her quiet, and thank’s to Rufus’ bad luck, they are both thrown back down to Earth. With his new bargaining chip, Goal, Rufus now has to figure out how to return Goal to her fiancee in exchange for his entry to Elysium. And thus begins our adventure…

Deponia 2

The ‘Show Hotspots’ is the wrong stick and we can now run!

Controls
Deponia is a point-and-click game, this should instantly allow you to picture how the game works. However, all three platforms operate slightly differently.
• On the PC we have the standard, move your mouse around the screen, click on objects or people, then perform various interactions. 
• On the PS4/Xbox, you move Rufus with the Left Stick, control a virtual mouse with the Right Stick (which can be used just like the mouse on the PC), and L1/R1 are used to flick between all the interaction points on the screen. 
• The Switch is a bit less intuitive, the Left Stick moves Rufus again, but the right stick just flicks through the closest interaction points, the same as the L and R bumpers. You can’t use the Right Stick as a mouse-like pointer, and you can’t flick through all the interaction points, only those nearby. The game doesn’t even support the touch-screen when in portable mode – which is the same as Silence, another Daedalic port I recently reviewed.

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There are two positive changes to the Switch version, in terms of its controls. You can now hold down ZL/ZR in order to ‘run’ and move a bit faster (which is always nice) and the menu bar at the bottom of the screen can be hidden if you push down on the ‘D-Pad’. On the other versions, the item bar would fade out if you don’t use it for a while, but it still managed to block certain items on the screen at times. 

So, before we’ve even taken a look at the game itself, I’m on the fence with the controls. I like the run option and the fact you can hide the item bar, but I’m not sure why they removed the mouse-like cursor and the ability to scroll between all interaction points. You can, however, push in the Left Stick (the controls say the Right Stick, but it’s the Left one) and all the hotspots will briefly light up, but you can only interact with the ones you walk near in this version. 

Deponia 3

How good are you at Tangrams? (PS4 screenshot)

Puzzles
Aside from the interesting narrative, and often hilarious dialogue, the majority of your time in Deponia will be spent solving the many puzzles placed before you. You’ll be trying to solve puzzles without even realising you’re in the middle of a puzzle, that’s how integrated they are within the gameplay. From your standard ‘puzzle’-like puzzles, where you have to perform something such as moving levers to line up a rocket, to picking up a multitude of objects so you can combine them together to create a solution to a problem – nothing felt repeated or tiresome, it was all fun and interesting. 

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Speaking of the inventory, yes – there are a lot of inventory puzzles. These will require you to think outside of the box as you combine items with both the environment and each other in order to modify the use of the item or create an entirely new one. I never felt the solutions were too hard to figure out – there aren’t any Discworld-style ‘Moon logic’ puzzles here. It’s all about trial and error – you can’t do anything ‘wrong’, so there’s no risk trying an item on everything and everyone!

As a side note, the Nintendo Switch doesn’t have any trophies or achievements, so you’re free to play the game as you please. However, if you’ve picked up the game on the PC, PS4 or Xbox One, there are a load of missable trophies which tend to relate to using items where you’re not supposed to. So, if you are picking this game up in order to get the platinum (as it’s a 2-3 hour platinum if you’re good at the puzzles), then make sure you’ve read the trophy descriptions first.

Deponia 4

This guy is the local police, medic and firefighter, all in one!

Overall thoughts
As an intro to the series, I thought Deponia was good, but not great. The story is solid, the interactions with the various characters are all very charming and funny, and the puzzles are challenging but not impossible. However, the game feels a bit short due to it being the opening introduction. I played Chaos on Deponia (Deponia 2) in 2017 and that game felt a lot more fleshed out as if the developers took what was great with this game (the visuals, writing, humour, and underlying story) and then expanded on it to provide a much bigger adventure.

I have, but yet to play, Goodbye Deponia (Deponia 3) – which I’ll be reviewing soon, along with Deponia Doomsday (if I can get hold of this one). I can’t wait to see where the story goes as I’ve heard some rather strange things about it.

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In terms of the quality of the game, everything about Deponia screams out ‘premium’ to me. The Voice acting is perfect as each artist gives it their all and fits the personalities perfectly, the visuals are very colourful and detailed despite it being based upon a wasteland in this outing, the music is memorable, and the humour is spot on what I love. It’s all very slap-stick and witty comedy, with a side portion of sarcasm. This brings me to something I have to praise the people behind this Switch port for – the visual quality of the Switch version…

Switch vs PS4 comparison
I’ve taken screenshots of the game, both in docked and portable mode, so that I could compare the two images (like I have done in my Silence and Darksiders reviews), but there was no point. Both methods of play appear to output the exact same image! I’m not sure what resolution is being used, as the Switch only takes 720p screenshots regardless of the output, but it’s a case of either the portable mode is downsampling a 1080p image (like Hyrule Warriors does), or the difference in resolution doesn’t affect the quality we see in both methods. This makes it a great game to play whichever way you wish.

Above you’ll see a slider (mobile users may have to swipe it a bit before the image appears). This is comparing the PS4 via 1080p output to the portable Nintendo Switch in the same scene. You’ll see they both look very similar other than the character assets being slightly sharper on the PS4 side. I know Deponia isn’t very demanding, as it’s only a 2D point-and-click game, but seeing this version almost identical to the PS4 simply shows how good the port is. My only issue will be the lack of the Right Stick mouse and no touch controls. 

Official Trailer:

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Final Conclusion:
Deponia feels like it’s a combination of old-school Lucas Arts point-and-click adventure games with a hint of Terry Pratchett’s unique humour. As part one of a four-part story, this initial game introduces us to the characters we’ll interact with throughout the subsequent games as well as explain the lore and backstory. So, as an introduction, it’s great, as a full-on game, it’s not as fleshed out as Chaos on Deponia and possibly the latter two as well. However, if you’re into point-and-click adventure games then this is a perfect starting point as I’m sure you’ll fall in love with Rufus, Goal, and the other zany characters.

With a play time of around five to six hours (two to three if you’re speedrunning and skipping dialogue, which I don’t condone), the game feels like one epic inventory puzzle with funny dialogue and interactions, as well as a few standard puzzles thrown in. That’s not a bad thing, the game keeps you entertained, you become invested in the characters, and you’ll be wanting to find out what happens next as soon as the credits begin to role!

A copy of the game was kindly provided for review purposes

Deponia

£35.99
8

Final Score

8.0/10

The Good:

  • - Witty and slapstick comedy
  • - Visually the game looks great with it's bold colours and small details
  • - Gives you the option to run and hide the inventory bar in the Switch version
  • - Interesting story which sets up the series perfectly
  • - The voice acting and music are great

The Bad:

  • - It's too expensive. The PS4 collection, containing all four games, is cheaper than this single game.
  • - No Right Stick mouse-like selection option
  • - Some of the inventory puzzles are a little obscure, but nothing is impossible to figure out
  • - Feels shorter and less fulfilling than subsequent titles in the series
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